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French Dining Pleasures


Following are some dining notes of great meals we had on our recent decadent trip to France during ten days in April 1996.
All meals were for four persons, and were taken at some of the finest restaurants in France. They were all accompanied by great wines.
This page will concentrate on the food, with passing reference to the wine. Tasting notes for the wines appear in a separate page: French Wining Pleasures.

"Hostellerie de Clos" in Chablis

Lunch for four.
Chef: Michel Vignaud. Michelin: Three forks and one star. Gault-Millau: 16.
A beautiful and elegant restaurant, in the middle of the sleepy town of Chablis. The idea was to have a "light" lunch, as we had a reservation for dinner at Bernard Morillon in Beaune.

Foie Gras poele aux Pommes vertes, Caramelisees et vinaigre Maison
(Foie Gras in Apples and Caramel)
Filets de Truite farci, poeles au Chablis
Fricassee d'Escargot de Bourgogne au Coulis de Persil plat et Creme d'Ail Confit
(Escargot in parsley & garlic cream)
Langoustines roties aux Noisettes Torrefiees
Petit Gateau tiede au Chocolat, sauce Vanille aux Griottes
(Half-warm chocolate cake in vanilla sauce with cherries)
Poire rotie en Miel d'Accacia, Glas aux Noisettes Torrefiees
(Pears in Accacia-honey with almonds ice-cream)
Tart fine Feuilletee aux Pommes, Glace Vanille
(Apple pie with vanilla ice-cream)

Wine: Chablis - Valmur 1989 J-M Raveneau
Everything but the Escargot was excellent. Courteous but cold service.
Bill: $290. Compared to past: Similar performance. Mark: 7.5/10.

"Bernard Morillon" in Beaune

Dinner for four
Chef: Bernard Morillon. Michelin: Three forks and one star. Gault-Millau: 14.
The restaurant is adjacent to the 'Le Cep' hotel in Beaune. A stylish hotel, housed in a 16th century Bourgeoisie house with beautiful inner court, fine old furnitures and Objects d'Art.
Bernard Morillon is extremely modest and shy, but his wife is greater than life in every possible respect. Mme Morillon, a charming lady who could very well pass as the local Bordel manageress, acts as the Maitre d' and is as extrovert as can be imagined...

Salad Vert
Creme d'Huitres chaudes, Oeufs de Caille poches

(Oysters cream soup with poached Quail eggs)
Truffe fraiche de chez Pebeyre
(Fresh whole truffles baked in pastry)
Coeur de Charolais Saint-Amant et son Foie Gras
(Fillet of Charolais beef and foie gras)
Volaille de Bresse mijotee au Gevrey-Chambertin
(Bresse Chicken cooked in Gevrey-Chambertin)
Queues de Langoustines Bretagnes Creme Gratinee
(Gratinated Langoustine tails)
Assiette de Fromages
Saint Honore accompagne de Creme Chantilly Petites Fraises
Souffle chaud, Fraises fraiches de chez lucion, jeune Coulis

(Strawberry Souffle with fresh strawberry juice)
Mousseline de Fruits Rouges, Creme Glace au Miel
(Red forest fruits in ice-cream and honey)
Tea & Coffee

Wines: Meursault - Les Boucheres 1988 Ropiteau
Wines: Gevrey - Combs aux Moins 1988 R. Leclerc

Delicious food to the last dish. Excellent and extremely friendly service. Warm and hearty atmosphere, reasonable prices. Surely deserves a second star. Highly recommended!
Bill: $560. Compared to past: Excellent as always. Mark: 8/10.

"Lameloise" in Chagny

Dinner for four
Chef: Jacques Lameloise. Michelin: Three forks and three stars. Gault-Millau: 17.
The most "affordable" three-star restaurant in France. Chagny is the southernmost town in the Cote d'Or.

Goose pate in Artichoke and Truffles [complimentary]
Rizotto de Langoustines de Bretagne aux Cepes et sa Dentelle de Parmesan
Grenouilles entre deux Lasagnes, sauce Mousseuse au Persil plat

(Frog-legs in large lasagnes with parsley mousse sauce)
Croustillant de Homard aux herbes, Emulsion de Tomates
(Hot Lobster chunks in delicate cold tomato sauce)
Cote et Selle d'Agneau de lait aux Herbes Fraiches
(Rib and saddle of a suckling lamb in herbs)
Pigeonneau roti a l'Emiette de Truffes
(Roasted pigeon in truffles sauce)
Filet de Boeuf Charolais aux Asperges et Truffes
Cote de Veau de lait en Cocotte aux Morilles

(Rib of suckling veal, in 'Morilles' mushroom sauce)
Assiette de Fromages
Tart fine aux Pommes et son Sorbet "Granny-Smith"
Millefeuille aux Fruits Rouges a la Creme de Vanille
Souffle Chaud au Grand Marnier

Sorbet of Dates in Passion-Fruit sauce [complimentary]
Tea & Coffee

Wines: Chassagne - Les Ruchottes 1990 Dom. Ramonet
Wines: Volnay - Champans 1985 H. de Montille

The Lobster in tomato sauce is an exquisite dish. The young veal was a bit disappointing. Everything else was superb. Professional but impersonal service.
Bill: $660. Compared to past: Better than last time. Mark: 8.5/10.

"Hostellerie de Levernois" in Levernois

Dinner for four
Chef: Jean Crotet. Michelin: Four red forks and two stars. Gault-Millau: 16.
A large restaurant amidst its own beautiful park. 5 km from Beaune. Fond memories of past visit. Only two other tables occupied, not an encouraging sign.

Cold cream of Asparagus [complimentary]
Scrambled Quail egg [complimentary]
Homard, Foie Gras de Canard, Artichaut en Vinaigrette tiede
(Lobster, Duck Foie Gras, Artichoke)
Foie Gras de Canard aux Noix et Noisettes et Foie d'Oie au naturel
(Duck and Goose liver with nuts)
Escalope de Foie Gras de Canard poele aux Amandes, Choux Rouges et Verts
Consomme a la Queue de Boeuf au Vine Rouge

(Ox-tail soup in red wine)
Noix de St. Jacques Poelees Boulangeres
(Scallop 'buns')
Langoustines Roties Coulis Poivron Doux
(Langoustines in mild pepper sauce)
Filet de Rouget au Vin Rouge, Echalotes garnies a la Moele
(Red Snapper in red wine and marrow)
Raviole de Ris de Veau Braise et Escargot
(Veal sweetbread ravioli and escargot)
Ragout de Homard "Minute" aux Flageolets
(Lobster stew)
Assiette de Fromages
Assiette des Fruits et des Sorbets de Saison
Fascination Pommes Verts au Calvados
Pastille au Chocolat et sa Glace a la Vanille
Sorbet au Marc
Tea & Coffee

Wines: Chateau Climens 1989 Sauternes (half bottle)
Wines: Puligny - Les Combettes 1990 E. Sauzet
Wines: Clos de la Roche 1985 Dom. Ponsot
(half bottle)
Two disappointing dishes, some other superb. Very good service, impressive wine-list. Expected more.
Bill: $820. Compared to past: Significantly deteriorated since last time. Mark: 8/10.

"Bernard Morillon" in Beaune

Dinner for four
Chef: Bernard Morillon. Michelin: Three forks and one star. Gault-Millau: 14.
Second evening at this cosy restaurant.

Jeune Epinard en salade, Picata de Bar de Ligne, Vinaigrette de Figues Fraiches
(Pickled Sea-Bass salad, with spinach, artichoke and fresh figs)
Petit salad du Jardin, Queue d'Ecrevisse, Langoustines Poelees, Foie Gras au Xeres
(Vegetables, shrimps, langoustines and duck liver in sherry)
Homard Maison, facon Mere Brazier
(Lightly creamed lobster chunks)
Turbot Roti aux Deux Sauce Douces
Assiette de Fromages
Souffle chaud, Fraises fraiches de chez lucion, jeune Coulis
(Strawberry Souffle with fresh strawberry juice)
Mousseline de Fruits Rouges, Creme Glace au Miel
(Red forest fruits in ice-cream and honey)
Sorbets Melanges
Tea & Coffee

Wines: Meursault - La Goutte d'Or 1985 Ropiteau
Wines: Beaune - Vigne d l'Enfant Jesus 1990 Bouchard P&F

This time everybody simply went out of their way to make our evening pleasurable. They succeeded big! The tenderly gratineed lobster was out of this world, the rest did not legged behind. Madam Morillon was at her best, and her sommelier (a very proficient young woman) even 'snapped' for us some Romanee St. Vivant '89 and Le Chambertin '69(!), both by Louis Latour who was hosting a large formal dinner at the next table...
Bill: $550. Compared to past: Even better than the previous visit. Mark: 9/10.

"La Cote St. Jacques" in Joigny

Dinner for four
Chefs: Michel & Jean-Michel Lorain. Michelin: Four red forks and three stars. Gault-Millau: 18.
In the north-west corner of Bourgogne, in the town of Joigny, lies this gastronomical shrine. The spacious and lavishly appointed rooms overlooking the Yonne river, the exquisitely decorated and furnished public areas, the warm and professional service - all these make the hotel the perfect "host" for the famous restaurant.

Jerusalem Artichoke in creamed Ox-tail [complimentary]
Degustation de Foie Gras d'Oie et de Canard
Huitres chaudes en habit verts, embeuree de Choux de Bruxelles et creme de Lentilles

(Hot oysters on bed of vegetables with Brussels Sprouts and cream of Lentil Butter)
Bar legerment fume, sauce au Caviar Sevruga
(Lightly Smoked Sea Bass, Sevruga Caviar Sauce)
Les Grosses Langoustines Bretonnes et Morilles Fraiches aux Asperges Vertes
(Big Langoustines in fresh 'Morilles' mushrooms and Asparagus)
Raviole de Homard Breton au Persil plat et a la Truffe
(Lobster Ravioli with Parsley and Pincer stuffed with Truffles)
Canard croise roti sauce aux petits Fruits, Tarte fine de legumes au friture d'Herbes
(Roasted Duckling with Fruit sauce, Vegetables in pastry and deep-fried Herbs)
Pigeon fermier et Foie Gras aux Navets confits, Noix de Pecan torrefiees jus de Pigeon reduit a la Truffe et Porto
(Pigeon and Foie Gras with Turnip puree, toasted Pecan Nuts, reduced Pigeon stock with Truffles and old Port)
Filet de Turbot, Confiture d'Ognions rouges, Carottes fondantes au jus de Chou braise, feuille d'epinard croustillante
(Fillet of Turbot, Chutney of red onions and tender Carrots in braised red Cabbage broth with crisp thin Spinach Beets)
Filet d'Agneau de lait roti et les Cotes confites a l'Epeautre et aux Aubergines
(Fillet of roasted suckling Lamb and Ribs steeped in wheat and Eggplants)
Assiette de Fromages
Assiette de Glaces et de Sorbets
Tart tatin aux Pommes caramelisees et glace aux Noix
Feuillete aux Poires caramelisees et glace au Gingembre

Sorbets in dry cherry-tomato leaves: Pears, Strawberry and Passion-Fruit [complimentary]
Tea & Coffee

Wines: Meursault - Les Perrieres 1990 Michelot-Buisson
Wines: Echezeaux 1985 H. Jayer

Probably the best dinner ever! Every dish was a masterpiece - in taste, composition, harmony and presentation. Add to that the extremely warm and friendly attitude extended to us throughout our stay by the Chef Michel Lorain, his wife and his son, and you'll get the picture of an unparalleled total experience!
Bill: $1120. Compared to past: This was our first (and hopefully not the last) visit. Mark: 10/10.

"Lion d'Or" in Romorantin

Dinner for four
Chef: Alain Barrat. Michelin: Four red forks and two stars. Gault-Millau: 18.
A Renaissance house in Romorantin, a small town in the south-eastern part of the Loire, houses the hotel and restaurant of Lion d'Or. The hotel top rooms are very nice indeed though terribly expensive. However, the quality of service and the attention paid to the small details leave a lot to be desired. One does not expect a torn breakfast table-cloth, a hair in the toast(!), and a fax that was never delivered, in a $400-a-day hotel...

Miniature sandwiches and beef bouillon [complimentary]
Langoustines Bretonnes roti a la Poudre fine d'Epices Douces
(Langoustines, roasted in ten mild spices)
Noix d'Entrecote affinee de Boeuf Vegandus
(Marinated Entrecote of Beer-massaged Beef)
Pigeon farci entre chair et Peau de Foies, Blonds Epices
(Stuffed Pigeon with liver and spices)
Assiette de Fromages
Creme glacee de Coings en Gelee d'Agrumes
Creme Brulee et son Sorbet
Tea & Coffee

Wines: Corton Charlemagne 1986 J. Faiveley
Wines: Hermitage "La Chapelle" 1983 P. Jaboulet

Except for the Langoustine, which was excellent, everything else was mediocre or worse! Two dishes were barely touched. A highly overrated disappointing place.
Bill: $800. Compared to past: This was our first and last visit. Mark: 7/10.

"Auberge St. Fiacre" in Veuil (Loire)

Dinner for two
Chef: Jean-Louis Broquet. Michelin: Two forks, no stars. Gault-Millau: 12.
A tiny family Auberge in a small remote village in the south Loire. Marie-Noelle, the Chefs's wife and spirit of the place, is a charming and talkative Maitre d'.

Rosace de St. Jacques au Huile d'Olives
(Scallops omelette in olive oil)
Langoustine Croustillante au saffron
(Langoustines wrapped in crunchy pastry "Cigars")
Pigolette de Volaille
(Stuffed Chicken and Zucchini)
Ris de Veau Muscade
(Veal Sweetbread with creamed potatoes)
Assiette de Fromages
Assortiment de Dessertes
Tea & Coffee

Wine: Chinon, Verennes du Grand Clos 1989 C. Joguet
Good food, warm and unpretentious service. Inexpensive. Definitely worth a visit!
Bill: $200. Compared to past: First visit. Mark: 7/10.

"Le Boeuf sur le Toit" in Paris

Dinner for four
Michelin: Two forks, no stars. Gault-Millau: 12.
A favorite Brasserie in the heart of Paris. Although its name suggests carnivorous pleasures, the real treasures in this noisy, crowded place all come from the sea.

A huge plate of seafood: Lobster, Langoustine, Crab, Shrimps, Oysters, Mussels, Clams etc.
A dozen#1 "Special" Oysters
Fish Soup
Duck Liver with Apples in Puff Pastry
Roasted Langoustines in Basil and Dry Tomatoes sauce on a bed of Fresh Pasta
Cold Lobster in home-made mayonnaise
Assiette de Fromages
Apple tart in sour cream
Illes Flotantes
Crepes Flambee au Grand Marnier

Sorbet and Fruit Salad in Champagne sauce
Tea & Coffee

Wines: Chablis - Les Chablisiennes 1990 J-M Raveneau
Wines: Condrieu 1992 Guigal

Excellent food. Lousy service. Interesting clientele.
Bill: $400. Compared to past: Food - good as ever, service - bad then ever. Mark: 6.5/10.

"Tan Dinh" in Paris

Dinner for four
Chef: Vifian father & son. Michelin: Two forks, no stars. Gault-Millau: 14.
A seemingly nondescript Vietnamese restaurant near the Musee d'Orssay. The restaurant supports a small selection of what sounded as delicious dishes.

Crab Wonton
Assam Shrimp Rolls
Piquant Mango and Crab salad
Triangle Golden Lobster ravioli
Duck in Plum sauce
Langoustine Crepes
Vietnamese Lamb
Mango chips
Sugared Ginger

Wines: Meursault - Les Perrieres 1988 Comtes Lafon
Wines: Bonnes Mares 1986 R. Groffier

The food is superb, but its wine list - the life love of the son, Robert Vifian - is UNBELIEVABLE!
I have dined at the finest restaurants in France. I've seen respectable leather-bound wine lists with every entry written in fine calligraphy. I have _NEVER_ seen any wine list containing more and better wines than this incredible plastic-wrapped hand-typed page after page after page list.
The choice of Bourgogne alone is dazzling. A bottle of Romanee-Conti 1969 is offered at $560! (I was outbid twice for this wine in auctions when I was willing to go as high as $800). When I asked Monsieur Vifian if I could buy a bottle and take it with me - he politely declined. There are, for example, two full pages dedicated to Meursault 1er Crus, all from the top producers. I could go on and on describing this amazing treasure trove. As can be imagined, Vifian has no doubt as to the suitability of good wines to his Vietnamese cooking. He claims every ingredient and preparation method of every dish should be taken into account when matching wine. Ideally every dish should be accompanied by its own wine. Well, we compromised on the number of wines but not on the quality or the suitability. Amazing place!
Bill: $530. Compared to past: First visit, more will follow. Mark: 7.5/10.

"Taillevent" in Paris

Dinner for four
Chef: Jean-Claude Vrinat. Michelin: Five forks and three stars. Gault-Millau: 18.
My favorite restaurant in the world.
There may be some restaurants where the dishes are more 'creative', there may be a few places where the presentation is more of the "lightnings and thunders" type. I know of no other place though where the perfect harmony of great classic cuisine, unsurpassed professional and attentive service, elegant setup and fantastic ambiance - all mingle together in order to make an evening at Taillevent an unforgettable total experience.

Terrine de Pigeon au Foie Gras
Boudin d'Homard Breton a la Nage
Asperges vertes poelees au Jus de Truffes
Cassoulet de Langoustines Bretonnes
Bar de Ligne a l'Huile d'Olive et aux Legumes confits
Darne de Turbot rotie au Beurre fume
Rougets en Filets grilles a la Coriandre

Truffe sous Pate
Tourte de Lapin aux Epinards et a la Sarriette
Ballottine d'Agneau rotie a la Perigourdine

Assiette de Fromages
Frandole de Desserts
Mille-Feuille tiede a la Vanille
Crepe soufflees au Citron vert et aux Mures
Nougatine glacee aux Poires Williames
Marquise au Chocolat, Sauce a la Pistache

Tea & Coffee

Wines: Hermitage Blanc 1986 H. Chave
Wines: Vosne - Cros Parantoux 1985 H. Jayer

This time both Monsieur Vrinat and his Maitre d' - Frederic Guidoni - went out of their way to give us a truly regal reception and treatment throughout the four-hours dinner. Non Plus Ultra!
Bill: $1050. Compared to past: Best time ever! Mark: 10/10.

This is the story of ten glorious days in France. Exorbitantly expensive, extremely fattening, immorally hedonistic, but totally and utterly unforgettable!

Reach Me? yak@yakshaya.com

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Copyright 1996-2003.
Jacob "Yak" Shaya.